The Meaning of Culture

Vincent Browne in conversation with Senator Eileen Flynn, Dr Rosaleen McDonagh and Helena Power
Thursday September 30th, 2021

Culture is something that surrounds us and yet we all have very different ideas of what elements go into making something cultural or culturally significant. Drawing on the personal reflections and observations of three women from the Traveller community this event assesses notions of culture in Irish society, past and present.


Eileen Flynn is an Irish Independent politician who has served as a Senator since June 2020, after being nominated by the Taoiseach. Her background is in community development and activism on behalf of Irish Travellers. In June 2020, Taoiseach Micheál Martin appointed Flynn to Seanad Éireann, the Irish Senate. She is the first Irish Traveller to serve in the Oireachtas.

Rosaleen McDonagh is a Traveller woman with a disability. Originally from Sligo, she is the fourth eldest in a family of twenty children. She worked in Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre for ten years, managing the Violence Against Women programme, and remains a board member. She is a regular contributor to the Irish Times and has written ostensibly within the framework of a Traveller feminist perspective. McDonagh’s work includes Mainstream, The Baby Doll Project, Stuck, She’s Not Mine, and Rings.

Helena Power is a Traveller woman who hails from Urlingford, north Kilkenny. Helena has volunteered with her local Traveller Organisation from a young age. Having completed her Leaving Certificate she went on to gain a diploma in Beauty Therapy before returning to work with her community. Helena has a great interest in human rights and the injustices faced by her community. Helena currently works as a wellbeing and awareness worker and participation worker with the Traveller community in Kilkenny.

Vincent Browne is a print and broadcast journalist. He is a columnist with The Irish Times and Sunday Business Post.

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